Monday, July 23, 2012

Travel Advice

Last week we went to the library, one of my favorite places in Fort Worth.

We go a few times a month.  My recent game is to go through the fiction bookshelves.   Each visit I go to the next bookshelf and pick out a book.   The next visit I go to the very next bookshelf.   Although sometimes I'll do multiple bookshelves in one visit.

Last week I picked up a book from one of the B shelves. Then I decided to go to the young adult section.  I vaguely had a currently popular book in mind. I didn't know the exact name or the author, but I figured maybe it would jump out at me.

When I got to the section, a man asked if I was looking for something to read.

I was a bit startled, but also pleased.  I was excited to find someone else who liked books so much, and one that was interested in talking to me.  Also, I figured maybe he could actually help me.   I like teen books, but I'm often overwhelmed by all the titles out there. What series are the genuine loved babies of talented writers, and what books were written simply to ride on the popularity of Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games?

I accepted the man's offer to help me find books. 

At first I was charmed by the man's enthusiasm.

He pointed to a vampire series, but unfortunately the first book was missing.

Soon after he went to a dragon series. I told him I didn't really like dragon books.

He seemed kind of annoyed by this.

Then he started getting on my nerves, because he kept talking and talking.  His enthusiasm started to become draining instead of helpful.

He was also completely disinterested in my input.  He didn't want to know what books I've read and what I like or dislike.  I realize now he didn't really want to play Dina-book matchmaker.  What he really wanted to do was talk about his reading experiences.  He wanted to share a bit of his life with someone who would listen. 

I ended up getting two books he recommended, even though I didn't feel all that excited about it.

I tried reading both of them today. I found them both unappealing and quit after the first few pages.   I'm not sure if it's the book themselves that put me off or my annoyance with the library man.

It's probably a little of both.  And there's also a fact that the books were rebound reading, because I just finished a book by an Aussie writer that I REALLY loved.  

I like finding my own books.

I don't mind getting book advice from other people if they know what I like.  Or at least they TRY to know what I like. 

I would have been more impressed with the library man if he had stopped to ask me. What books do you usually like?  What are your favorites?  What have you read lately?  

So....

Now I'm stupidly nervous about returning to the library.  I'm worried library man will be there.   I'm worried he'll remember me, and I'm worried he'll ask how I liked the books.   I'm worried he'll be annoyed that I quit reading them so soon.   I'm worried he'll bombard me with more book advice.

It's a little irrational, yes.  On the other hand, the library man reads a lot, so it's possible he spends a lot of time at the library.

Anyway, my feeling about book advice is very similar to how I feel about travel advice. 

I talk about travel plans and people become very eager to tell me where I should go. You must go here. You have to go here.  You'll totally love this place!  

Sometimes the advice is spot on, and that's helpful.  It could be that the person knows me well, or it  could be that the person has similar taste to me.

Sometimes the person has my interests at heart, but they don't know me as much as they think they do.  Or maybe they've misunderstood me.   

Other times, though, I think these travel advisers are like the man at the library. They're not really wanting to give me advice.  They're wanting to talk about their own past travels. By talking about my travel plans, I'm bringing up a subject they've been itching to talk about. 

All this is fine if I didn't feel so much pressure to please people. 

I actually get nervous about going to Australia and not going to places that people have recommended to me.

I worry they'll feel rejected or take my chosen plans as an insult.

Well...I think what I've learned through life is that people really love to talk about themselves and their experiences.   Sometimes they do this and put it in under the guise of advice. This goes with the subjects of traveling, books, parenting, marriage, and all kinds of things.

I guess my job is to be a good listener. Let them talk.  Then go my own way.

That being said, I'm not exactly going my own way on our next Australia trip. We're going to Melbourne. And part of the reason we're going is I've felt so much pressure to go from various people.

However, the main reason we're going is to visit friends. If they weren't there, I think we'd probably go elsewhere.

Well, and Tim's been wanting to go to Melbourne.   I definitely want to compromise in that regards, since it's nice enough that he's willing to be dragged off to Australia for the third time. 

I do have moments-days—where I get excited about Melbourne, but often I feel apathetic towards it.   It doesn't attract me the way that Sydney does.  

I guess what I'm trying to say is it makes me feel better to think that we're going to Melbourne because Tim wants to, and because I want to see our friends.   It makes me feel kind of blah when I imagine we're going to Melbourne because I gave into pressure.

And this is one of those rare cases where I SO want to be totally wrong. I want to love Melbourne and have a great time there. I don't want to go there, have an awful time, and regret that we didn't just spend more time in Sydney. 

In case you didn't know....

I really love Sydney.